Manila Standard : Making a mess out of the party-list system

By Emil Jurado | Manila Standard

"It has become an anomaly."

Clearly, the biggest anomaly of the 1987 Constitution, otherwise known as the Cory Constitution, was the introduction of the so-called party-list system. It has been bastardized!

I covered the framing of the charter in 1987 and the records will show that the advocates of the parliamentary system of government lost by just one vote resulting in the introduction of the party-list system or multi-party system, which was a copy of the German party-list system.

Under Article VI of the Constitution, Section 5 (2) “the party-list representatives shall constitute twenty per centum of the total number of representatives including those under party-list. For three consecutive terms after the ratification of this Constitution, one-half of the seats allocated to party-list representatives shall be filled, as provided for by law, by selection or election from the labor, peasant, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, and such other sectors as may be provided by law, except the religious sector.”

This provision gave then President Cory Aquino an opportunity to have her late husband’s friends from the communist movement to be included in the legislative department.

Note that the Constitutional provision excluded the religious sector. Santa Banana, why then did the El Shaddai, Jesus is Lord religious movement become members of the party-list system? My gulay, even the religious movement on Dinagat Island, whose founder was convicted of murder, became part of this system. If these religious movements can be part of the party-list groups, why not the Catholic Church, Aglipay, and Protestant religious movements?

The anomaly gave rise to another anomaly of having a President and Vice President who are from different political parties. Now we have the Vice President believing that her chief role is to criticize the President. This is a problem which did not exist under the 1935 Constitution because under it, only two parties existed— the Liberals and the Nationalists.

There is likewise the anomaly of political dynasties putting up their own party-list groups.

Just how the Comelec will remedy the situation has become a big problem. Santa Banana, it’s like a virus mutating!

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There’s a lot of misgivings on whether the country can achieve the goal of “herd immunity” by Christmas at the rate many Local Government Units (LGUs) are going about in their vaccination program. And I can’t blame them. Some LGUs like Paranque have only two sites - SM Sucat and MOA. Just why Paranaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez has only two vaccination sites contributes to the snail-paged vaccine rollout.

This is what happens when President Duterte leaves it to the LGUs to handle the vaccine rollout.

Las Pinas City, meanwhile, gets innovative in an effort to push more people to get vaccinated. Local executives started a raffle among constituents to jumpstart the vaccine rollout. The prize is a house-and-lot package.

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Amid all the news coming out in the media about the slow vaccine rollout, the country may soon be producing its own vaccine in partnership with known pharmaceutical firms abroad.

The group of tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan has been negotiating with known global firms in the production of anti-COVID-19 vaccines. The brand the MVP Group has been negotiating with, however, is not known, but this is certainly good news considering the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic may last for another year or so.

Pangilinan himself said in an interview that his Group is interested in the local manufacturer of vaccines. Boosters will follow. While the MVP Group is still at the stage of negotiation, the possibility of that country having its known vaccine brand is just a matter of time.

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The Comelec may extend the filing of certificates of candidacy for next year’s local and national election by two days or even more. My gulay, that’s thinking out of the box!

The Comelec should also extend the voting days for the polls, and likewise the counting of votes considering the fact that COVID-19 health restrictions and protocols could delay voting and counting.

Health restrictions, guidelines and protocols may delay voting in the provinces because of inaccessibility of transportation for those who live far-off from voting precincts. There is also the possibility of ballot boxes being delayed for the Smartmatic VCM or Voting Counting Machines also because of the inaccessibility of transportation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Comelec must consider the fact that local and national elections are in abnormal times. Voters living far off from precincts have to be transported and that the delivery of ballot boxes may also get delayed, which could result in fraud.

The Comelect must ensure fair, orderly and peaceful elections acceptable to the people.

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One big question the Philippines must face, whether we like it or not, is how to rid all hundreds of Chinese fishing vessels said to be manned by Chinese militia in connection with the frequent incursions of China into our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

We can file all the diplomatic protests we want. This is in fact what the Philippines is doing. Still there are hundreds of Chinese vessels found to be in the West Philippine Sea.

A US-based research company has reported the presence of hundreds of Chinese vessels which sailed away from Julian Felipe Reef off West Palawan, but never left the water.

Vessels were spotted in the Philippine EEZ at The Tizard Bank, around 25 kilometers north of Pagkakaisa Union banks and reefs. So, what can we do? File more diplomatic protests, my gulay!